The Economist has observed how today’s tech giants (Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Microsoft) are placing bets on the technologies of the future. While improving and enhancing the current products, such as making the iPhone’s battery last a little longer, is important, a larger portion of their budget is allocated to new technology. To figure out which technologies they wanted the most, they looked at their investments, acquisitions, and jobs, among other things. One of these trends was self-driving cars, which were at the top of their list.
Like I needed an affirmation! It has been almost two years since I began at Zenseact, a startup (now a scale up) developing software for autonomous vehicles. I recall being introduced to the CEO while driving one of our test cars on the highway in Gothenburg, Sweden, and coming to terms with the magnitude of (data!) what the journey entailed. I was in awe then, and not much has changed as I continue to be inspired and excited to work with ‘frontier technology’ – as labelled by the Economist.
Zenseact's One Pilot product has advanced driver assistance and autonomy technology for consumer automobiles, which enables the vehicle to travel from point A to point B autonomously. One Pilot offers the customer three different modes of operation: Drive, Cruise, and Ride.
Evolution of the feature software will be guided by expected end-user benefit and growing unsupervised capability.
Drive - during manual driving, the One Pilot shall help the driver to avoid all collisions by providing information, warnings, automatic braking, and steering interventions
Cruise - a supervised pilot who controls the motion of the vehicle under driver supervision
Ride - is an unsupervised pilot service that enhances comfort and convenience by allowing the driver to engage in secondary activities
One of the key benefits of autonomous driving is increased safety, not just for the driver but for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. With a view to making a difference in the world, and aware that 1.3 million people die each year (according to WHO) from road traffic crashes, Zenseact set its ambitions high to preserve life by accelerating the move to zero collisions with the help of their self-driving technology. Our vision, ‘towards zero faster’ resonates with our employees; it gives motivation and allows us to see and feel the impact our work will have.
Allowing me to partake in the collective responsibility of making the world a better place puts me in a good place in my heart. However, I have another passion that fuels my mission, and that is data! At Zenseact, a typical test car features up to 23 sensors capturing radar, lidar, and sonar. A combination of sensors is needed to ensure safety and reliability. We’re collecting gigabytes every second. During a day’s drive, we generate more than 50 terabytes per test car, which, to me, as a data professional, is an astounding journey to be on.
Today, everyone knows that data is worth something. Business leaders worldwide recognize the value of data. They are focused on creating data-driven organizations through significant investments in analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), deep learning, and more.
Companies made significant investments in essential warehousing programs and hoarded data, aware of its 'value' and 'importance' but not knowing what to do with it. Then emerged data lakes, and we collected even more data, believing it might be helpful in the future. This is despite the fact that they are facing difficulties in enabling their legacy systems to handle new requirements. Because the business is getting bigger, the scalability and adaptability can't keep up.
Make Data Literacy an Organization-wide Priority
Thinking critically about the data we're collecting from our fleet vehicles to continually update our features, we knew we would need immense power to handle the massive amounts of data coming in. That, combined with our need to add more and more capability and capacity as we continue to grow. Rapidly accelerating technology advances and increasing data literacy programs give us the ability to explain and organize complex data. We can be 'data driven' and appreciate the ethical implications of algorithms, which enables our businesses to progress on that journey effectively. Our transformation journey to becoming a SaaS company, transitioning from startup to scale-up, where scale and speed are critical components, adds another dimension to how data should be collected, processed, and deployed.
Developing our capabilities includes recapitulating our data strategy and establishing a solid data foundation that addresses data sharing principles and legislation in the EU, particularly in China and the US. In addition, we are leveraging our data to inform business decisions, ensure compliance and information security to safeguard our business and our business partners, among others.